When asked to “reach out” to Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan, concerned about the hateful rhetoric spewed by Donald Trump, Ben Carson — being Ben Carson — had the worst advice ever.
"Please concentrate on how you can help to identify radicalized individuals,” he said, according to Michigan Radio. “So that you put yourself squarely on the side of the American populace, so that people aren't really wondering what side that you're on."
There are multiple things wrong with this statement.
First, American Muslims do not need to provide proof of their loyalty just because a bunch of lunatics with high-tech weapons are carrying out atrocities in the name of Islam.
When Robert Dear opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last month, no evangelical Christians were asked to prove themselves as true Americans. Why? Because tarring an entire community with the same brush based on the actions of a few criminals is unjust and absurd.
Second, even though Muslims are not supposed to apologize for terrorists groups like the Islamic State or al Qaeda, they have been doing so for more than a decade now. People like Carson just fail to acknowledge their contributions.
Just recently, following the suspected terror attack in San Bernardino, California, hundreds of American-Muslims raised more than $150,000 for the families of the victims killed in the shooting, hoping to respond to “evil with good.”
As far as street protests are concerned, Muslims in the U.S. have been holding those for quite sometime. In the last week of November, more than 100 people gathered near the White House to renounce extremist groups.
In fact, in Dearborn — where Carson told Muslims to “do more to combat terrorism” — hundreds of Arab Americans gathered for a peaceful protest against hate outside of the Karbala Islamic Center.
Moreover, American Muslim journalists, writers, politicians and activists have also been active in denouncing militancy in religion and dispelling misconceptions about Islam. Writer Reza Aslan, Daily Beast columnist Dean Obeidallah, Washington D.C.-based lawyer Rabia Chaudry and Brooklyn-based activist Linda Sarsour are important names in this regard.
Most notably, in order to provide the ultimate proof of her patriotism in the wake of Paris attacks, Saba Ahmed, the president and founder of The Republican Muslim Coalition, appeared on The Kelly File, wearing an American flag as her hijab — a traditional veil to cover the head for Muslim women.
Also, Carson probably doesn’t know that American-Muslims have fought for their country during the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War and also served during the Gulf War, Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan. More than 5,800 self-identified Muslims are currently serving in the military, according to the Department of Defense.
Ben Carson should realize that at a time when Islamophobia is on the rise in the country, politicians and authorities should address the concerns of Muslims and help protect them from possible hate crimes instead of asking them “to do more” to prove themselves as American.